UX (User Experience) writing is a specific type of writing, primarily for online or digital platforms such as apps and websites. The purpose of UX writing is to guide the user through a process, from start to finish. Ultimately it should give the user an excellent experience when they use a website, app or software.
UX writing covers information copy such as headlines, sub-headers, body copy and captions, as well as interaction copy such as forms, logins, prompts, CTAs, notifications, error messages and tips.
We have all come face to face with poor UX writing. An app with instructions that are too complex to follow. Software that is difficult to understand. A website that is confusing to navigate. Poor UX writing leads to a frustrating user experience.
What makes good UX writing?
Good UX writing has to be clear and concise. Space is often limited, so brevity reigns supreme. At the same time, UX writing has to serve a purpose: to move the user on to the next stage, level, task, action etc. So UX writing has to be functional and useful. But this doesn’t mean dry and academic. It should be a delight to read, even, in some cases, fun. Getting the balance between all these aspects can be challenging. But hey, that’s why specialist UX writers exist!
How to write good UX copy
If you are considering writing UX copy, a good place to start is in the shoes of the user. You need to think like them, know how they will use the app, navigate the website, buy a product, or connect with the help desk when there’s an issue.
I see it like someone stopping me to ask the way to their destination. I want to give them clear, concise and useful instructions that they can easily follow. And if they can enjoy their journey – or say “Wow, that was easy!” – so much the better.
Also important is the ability of the UX Writer to understand how websites, apps and software are designed and implemented. This will help you to appreciate all the possible scenarios a user may embark on and what specific difficulties may be encountered. Sometimes it’s useful to chat with the designer or developer, and even create copy in parallel with them. This is why I believe a good technical copywriter can make a good UX writer.
Make sure you are consistent in style, vocabulary and grammar throughout. Use the same words on buttons as in body text and captions. Bear in mind that your copy will probably be translated.
My final tip is to edit ruthlessly. Cut out those extra words. Reformulate that sentence. Read your copy out loud. Try a different approach. Perform A/B testing. You’re aiming for perfection – and that takes time and practice to achieve.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery
“Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away”
UX writing isn’t easy. It’s much easier to write 100 words to explain something than to find just 10 words. But I find UX writing enjoyable and satisfying because it gives me the opportunity to really drill down to the basics and continually cut out unnecessary fluff.
Looking for a UX Writer?
I have experience in UX writing and will happily discuss your project with you. Just drop me a line.